The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker has about a dozen engineers from the aerospace, satellite and antenna design industries working on the project with the goal of deploying their results within five years, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal company efforts. Work on the project is still early and could be abandoned, the people said, and a clear direction and use for satellites hasn’t been finalized. Still, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has shown interest in the project, indicating it’s a company priority.
There are other large tech companies working on the deployment of satellite constellations including Facebook, SpaceX, and Amazon. However, a number of failures in this field suggest it's hard to find a viable business model for multibillion-dollar satellite communication projects.
Apple's team is led by Michael Trela and John Fenwick, former aerospace engineers who helped lead Skybox Imaging before it sold to Google in 2014. The pair worked on Google's satellite and spacecraft operations until leading for Apple in 2017.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has started hiring more software and hardware experts for the team in recent months. It's also hired more executives from the aerospace and wireless data delivery fields. This includes Daniel Ellis, who former helped oversee Netflix's Content Delivery Network (CDN).
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